Monday Morning Secret Wars 9: Weirdworld is Awesome, and So Is Marguerite Bennett

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X-Men ’92 #1 and #2 (Infinite Comics version):

I am 44. In 1992, I was 21 and a member of Generation X. Here is a partial list of things that people alive in 1992 need to apologize to future generations for:

  1. MTV’s Kennedy.
  2. Billy Ray Cyrus. (Miley’s okay, but Billy Ray is a sin against music.)
  3. Mad About You.
  4. Barney the Purple Dinosaur.
  5. Overwritten X-Men comics.

You can argue the first four- I was not a TV or music executive in the 1990s. But I bought a lot of those exposition-laden X-Men comics with the scratchy lines and the impossible anatomy. Those books were the cutting edge of superhero books, despite the fact that, in retrospect, they were terrible. We didn’t care. We bought the books by the metric ton. And as a result, Fox made a cartoon about the X-Men, and that was also, in my opinion, hot garbage.

Chad Bowers and Chris Sims clearly disagree with my opinion. They must, because X-Men ’92 is a loving, worshipful tribute to the comics and show of that era. I knew Chris Sims loved the show, because he wrote an extensive episode guide on Comics Alliance. But I never realized that he and Chad were so devoted to the show until I read the books.

I like sharing panels of comics with you, my beloved audience, but you might want to turn your heads or scroll down, because if you’re not cool with overwrought verbiage, your head will explode at the gnarliness of these comics:

Don't turn your head. Look at those word balloons. LOOK.
Don’t turn your head. Look at those word balloons. LOOK.
The horror...the horror.
The horror…the horror.
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Try reading that dialogue out loud. You can’t. Humans don’t talk like that.

I’m not complaining about this book. If you’re going to do a book called X-Men ’92, this is how you do it. You get X-Men fanboys obsessed with the sheer ludicrousness of those books and take it to the nth degree. This comic is as X-Men ’92ish as anything can be. It’s absurd performance art, and everyone involved should be applauded for it. But Marvel, please don’t do it again, or I’m siccing Tabitha Soren and the surviving member of Kriss Kross on you all.

Verdict: THUMBS UP.

Spider-Verse #2

What???
What???

Do you know what Gen-X is responsible for? The Internet. Seriously, forget Al Gore, my generation built this thing. And it’s a good thing, because without the Internet, I would never have known that Peter Porker is telling the truth here. He really was a spider who was bit by a radioactive pig and became Spider-Ham.

Huh. You learn something every day!

Verdict: THUMBS UP.

Ultimate End #2

I’ve given very few Thumbs Down verdicts in Secret Wars, but damn it if Ultimate End doesn’t just keep piling them up.

Here’s the story beats for this book. Ready?

  1. The Thors all come together and tell the combined Ultimate/616 charactes to do nothing. Seriously. Nothing. The 616 Hawkeye complains, so the Thors kill him. And by extension, Bendis has killed more Hawkeyes than anyone else on the planet.
  2. 616 Tony Stark tells Ultimate Iron Man to stop drinking. So he does.
  3. 616 Peter Parker says hi to Ultimate Aunt May, which would be charming, except we’ve seen this before in Spider-Men a few years ago. This book is way too late.
  4. 616 Hulk and Ultimate Hulk have a fight near the Raft, and inadvertently break out Ultimate Punisher.

That’s the book. Yep. $3.99 for all of that.

And that's why Ultimate End #2 gets a verdict of...
And that’s why Ultimate End #2 gets a verdict of…

Verdict: THUMBS DOWN.

Weirdworld #1 (Note- this review is peppered with foul language. You’ll see why in a moment.)

OK, so here’s a warning. I record GAR! this week with Glenn, probably on Wednesday night (I’m typing this on Tuesday). We never plan ahead. The podcast is completely off-the-cuff, no notes, no plans. We just riff off whatever we feel like.

But this week (if my podcast partner lets me get away with it), I’m going to read as much of Weirdworld #1 out loud as I can. Because Weirdworld #1 is FUCKING AWESOME.

It’s not just the concept (“Hi! I’m Arkon, and I’m going to run around a strange land and have adventures!”). It’s not just Mike Del Mundo channeling Bill Sienkiewicz.

NICE.
NICE.

It’s Jason Aaron. Jason Aaron gives Arkon the most pulpy inner dialogue I’ve ever seen. It’s sharp, crisp, masculine, and muscular. It’s also paranoid, exhausted, and cranky, just like Arkon is after weeks of running around the insanity that is Weirdworld.

This book is like the methed out husk of PKD merged with Robert E. Howard. It’s insane, and it’s the new contender for best Secret Wars book. The hill just got steeper.

I don’t curse much on this blog, but fuck it.

FUCK YEAH.
FUCK YEAH.

Verdict: GODDAMN. STOP READING THIS AND GO BUY IT.

Where Monsters Dwell #1

I love Garth Ennis’s writing.

I love Russ Braun’s artwork.

I love crazy time-displaced stories about ne’er-do-wells trying to fly in a strange land who are also trying to get in bed with a smarter-than-she-looks bombshell.

I love dinosaurs.

You see where I'm headed, right?
You see where I’m headed, right?

Verdict: THUMBS UP.

X-Tinction Agenda #1

Did you know that in the original X-Tinction Agenda, Genosha had the power to digitize people, transport them by phone line (copper landlines!), and force them into a live of slavery?

Here’s where it gets interesting. The human body contains 150 Zetabytes (a real thing!) of genetic data. If you scrub the data for redundancy, you could compress that data to about 1.5 GB (again, according to the Internet, and what would it lie?) The fastest modem in 1988 was probably 9600 baud. So it would take about a half-year to send over a fully compressed human being in real life (if it were possible to do that to a human being).

Sadly, that’s a more interesting fact than anything here. This book isn’t for me.

Also, I really don't want to see Havok and Rahne in bed. Not like that. Nope. Call me old-fashioned.
Also, I really don’t want to see Havok and Rahne in bed. Not like that. Nope. Call me old-fashioned.

Verdict: THUMBS DOWN.

Years of Future Past #1

Marguerite Bennett might be the new Charles Soule. She’s writing a LOT of books.  This is good, because writers need practice and paychecks, and (hopefully) she’s getting a lot of it. All of her published work have come in the last two years.

What’s amazing is that I can’t think of a bad book she’s written. Look at all of that material in two years time. She’s still coming up with tons of fresh material despite her workload. It’s amazing. Look- she has Wolverine punch a tiger!

BAM! A TIGER!
BAM! A TIGER!

Look at that panel. She doesn’t overwrite the thing- Wolverine pops in, punches the tiger, and by the next page, we’ve moved on to exposition. That’s how you’re supposed to write fun, punchy comics (and by punchy, I mean “having an immediate impact”, not just tiger-bashing).

Getting to play in the “Days of Future Past” toybox sounds like a plum assignment for most writers, but really, it’s not. I’ve read tons of bad rehashes of the classic Byrne/Claremont story. Some writers will make Katherine Pryde too dry. Some will overplay the “old Wolverine” hand (sadly, like Bendis does in Old Man Logan). Some writers will try to build up the Sentinels as a daunting threat, forgetting that the Sentinels are a tired concept in 2015.

Bennett takes what she’s given and comes up with a fresh plot. She gives what could have been a dull retake a fantastic plot twist. She gets great work out of her artist, Mike Norton. And she gives us Wolverine punching a tiger.

And that’s why Marguerite Bennett has written a ton of books in the last two years, and why she’s a writer worth paying attention to.

Verdict: THUMBS UP.

And with that, folks, I’m finally caught up! Next Monday, I’ll be reviewing the new slate of Secret Wars stuff. Don’t miss out!

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